Lymm 24 – Macclesfield 13
By David Wilkinson
The short trip derby to Lymm was high on the agenda for the team, and a contest that many would have pencilled in for an away win; indeed the home committee were fearful of their chances, highlighting the weakness of their scrum. Macclesfield had had two weeks of learning the lessons of the thrown-away game against Blackburn: better discipline, one-on-one tackles, and cutting out the 50/50 rugby. Some lessons had been learned but by no means all.
There was barely a minute gone when the bounce of the ball, on Lymm’s 3G pitch, popped-up perfectly for a very good pass to release the right winger, who sprinted to the corner for the first score. After the restart, Macclesfield won a penalty from the first of many tedious scrums; with an attacking lineout to follow. Lymm guessed right, at the lineout, and got in front of the jumper, which would be the first of many lost lineouts. Macclesfield then gave away a penalty for holding-on and play moved into the visitor’s red-zone; after repulsing the attack, Lymm were given a tit-for-tat penalty at the scrum. From the 5 metre lineout Lymm executed a perfect training-ground move to score on the short-side. Macclesfield had not done a lot wrong, but were 10 points down.
One of the few lineouts to hit the target in the 1st half
What followed was 25 minutes of total frustration, for players, Macclesfield supporters, and no doubt, the coaching team. Macclesfield were in total control of the scrum, and with Lymm reduced to 13 players it seemed inevitable that the tries would come; but scrappy play and lost lineouts let Lymm off the hook. That said, three times the referee blew-up, as Macclesfield were about to score, by not playing advantage in the red-zone, not allowing a quick-tap penalty, and telling Macclesfield to “use-it”, when the pack were about to go over for a push-over try. When Macclesfield decided to take the three points on 40 minutes, the Lymm players shrieked with delight; they had survived the storm, 10 points to 3 up.
The Referee thwarts a quickly taken penalty by Josh Redfern
Lymm increased their lead within a few minutes of the second-half, working an extra man on the short-side, which they executed well to score. From the restart Macclesfield were again camped in the Lymm red-zone, winning a series of scrum penalties, Lymm were once again reduced to 14 players. From a penalty advantage Harry Oliver chipped out wide and James Hampson cleverly stopped the ball going dead before scoring.
The build up for Macclesfield’s 1st try
Macclesfield now appeared to be in the ascendancy again, pressing for another score, but a pumped pass in midfield was telegraphed and the ball was quickly shifted to Lymm’s lightening right winger, in support, who had an open field to run into for Lymm’s bonus point try.
Macclesfield were not undone yet and went straight back into attack; but what followed, would prove, to be the undoing of the contest. A knock to the head of the Lymm Tight-head Prop sent him off, for a Head Injury Assessment, which meant the previously yellow-carded Prop had to return. The Referee had little patience with him, and he was penalised at the next scrum; this put Macclesfield back in the red-zone, with another scrum, two more penalties against the Tight-head followed, and he left the field for good, with the rest of the game being played out with uncontested scrums. At the elite level, a further player would be forced to leave the field due to enforced uncontested scrums, but Lymm played on with 14 players. From the restarted uncontested scrum Macclesfield spun the ball out wide and James Hampson crashed over for his second try.
James Hampson on his way over for Macclesfield’s 2nd try
The following 16 minutes was an exceedingly dull affair, uncontested scrums had turned up trumps for Lymm, Macclesfield’s dominance had gone, and the game drifted to its conclusion. Whilst the Macc lads tried to do their best to break the line, it was now all too predictable, and as they forced the game, 5 consecutive spilled balls limited their time in possession.
Macclesfield had probably been the better team for the majority of the match but at 24 – 13 the scoreboard gave 5 points to Lymm and none to Macclesfield, a result that will now make it exceedingly difficult to get out of this league. It had been the most frustrating of games, the referee failed to keep any flow to the game, it was a constant stop-start scenario, particularly at the scrum.
Head Coach Andy Appleyard, in his post-match interview, said that he was very disappointed by the fact that even though we had dominance in the first half, we only managed 3 points: “… it’s not good enough, we have just said as a group, no one is happy with what went on. It shouldn’t take until the last ten minutes to get some real energy into the game”. That said, as Andy alluded to later in the interview, the stop-start nature, took any pace out of the game. On the question of not taking advantage of the scrum dominance Andy had this to say: “Your scrum is only as good as what you do afterwards, and especially if you get a penalty … we just didn’t execute at the lineout, which is unlike us, it was a shock; it’s something that we have to address”. Which was certainly the case; in recent weeks the lineout play had been very crisp and accurate, after the work of lineout specialist coach Chris Jones. Some of the detail was missing, and Captain Sam Moss took some of that criticism himself, admitting that his throwing was well below par.
Both, Analyst, Matt Coleridge, and Andy Appleyard had identified that the ball had not been in play for protracted periods, which seemed to put pressure onto the players and panic them into forcing the game at times. Andy was, for once, quite critical about the referee, feeling that he had to speak to the players all of the time, finally saying: “Really for me the best referees are the ones you forget”; which this week was certainly not the case.
Next week brings Kirkby Lonsdale to Priory Park, who’s team are having a tough season so far; nothing but five points will be satisfactory for Macclesfield, kick-off will be 3.00pm.
Seconds on the wrong end of a try-fest at Priory Park
Macclesfield 2nd XV 46 – Lymm 2nd XV 55
By Paul Jakubowski
After a poor start Macclesfield found themselves 21 – 0 down after just 10 minutes. A combination of poor handling, dropped balls and poor defence had led to Lymm capitalising, with kick and chase and simple run-ins. The addition of a yellow card in the second minute, which led to a penalty try, did not bode well for the rest of the game. Attempting to chase the game so early in the match led to mistakes which Lymm were happy to capitalise on. After a sustained period of pressure and some crisp handling by Lymm, Macclesfield conceded a fourth try and were behind 26 – 0 after 15 minutes.
Another side might have capitulated at this stage, but the 2nd team had previously come from a similar situation to draw against Preston, in their only other home match this season. However, this looked a more daunting prospect. Credit to the Macclesfield side, as they started to put some phases together, the forwards winning good ball at the lineout and Giles Heatherington and Rik Hopkins looking to move the ball out wide, where both wings looked dangerous when in possession.
An attack from the 22 led to Heatherington, kicking ahead, for Lloyd Smith–Coates to score in the corner. James Brocklehurst then went over, after Lymm had conceded a penalty with the forwards driving over. This was followed by another try from Smith-Coates, to further reduce the gap. Lymm were, to a degree, on the back foot, but increased their lead from a charge-down before half time.
Fred Taylor grappling with a Lymm oponent
After the break the Macclesfield team came out with the determined intent to play at a higher tempo, with the forwards of: Jones, Turner and Alston, particularly standing out, along with Cyrus Kerfoot making his debut in senior rugby, and not looking out of place at this level. Sustained pressure then led to Club legend, Fred Taylor, scoring twice from close range. Macclesfield continued to mix play between forward drives and moving the ball out wide, the centre pairing of Wynne and Taylor grew in strength as the game continued and Tom Jennings was always looking to add width to the game. Macclesfield were now camped in the Lymm 22, allowing the forwards to edge towards the try-line where the experienced Heatherington sneaked in for the third try of the half and bring the game back to 34 – 38 with 15 minutes to go.
What had seemed like an unlikely come back was now on the cards. However, Macclesfield now had the second player sent to the bin and Lymm extended their lead with two converted tries to lead 34– 50. Lymm were always able to keep more than a score ahead, despite the efforts of the Macclesfield side. Hector Tomlinson came on at scrum half for his senior debut and Smith-Coates went in again for his hat-trick, Lymm responding with another well worked try before Alex Jakubowski scored from a clever kick from Rick Hopkins to leave the game at Macclesfield 46 Lymm 55.
Post match Team manager Russ Tomlinson said: “The lads know the areas we need to improve on. We take that into training this week. We left ourselves with too big a mountain to climb. I am, however, happy with team spirit and how strong we finished the game. We just can’t keep giving teams a head-start. The lads are desperate to turn it around and get that first W; the belief is there and they have my full backing”.
THE FOURTH TEAM, WORK IN PROGRESS
By Terry Robson
With the team having no match on Saturday, owing to a blank fixture, there’s an opportunity to review progress so far this season.
Captain Jeremy Bostock is, quite rightly, never satisfied with his side, but he’s always prepared to applaud new and exciting aspects of the way they are developing and mention new faces who are already making a big impact.
Behind the scrum Ollie Wilson has made things click whether at fly half, centre or full back. His kicking game is giving a new dimension in both attack and defence. Over the last three matches Nick Smith’s showing at full back has been an eye opener; previously he was either playing 10 or 12 but at the back field, it seems to suit his rugby assets, he is able to exploit the additional space as he loves running both with and without the ball, and he possesses a good high ball catching game.
Peter Hardwick is a refreshing presence in midfield; he is very attack orientated and has the ability to squirm through tiny gaps, in the opposition ranks, and he’s an absolute bastion of defence with a good positional feel and strong tackle technique.
Bostock’s oft stated mantra is: that it’s forwards who win games, backs just decide by how many points. Therefore Jeremy loves a tough, no nonsense, and heavyweight pack with mobile breakaways. This term he’s overcoming the loss of Jack Nicholson (relocated to Malvern) and Troy Crocker (on secondment to China for two years); these men are not easy to replace, further Jim Welch and Louis Smith have been unavailable for different reasons; therefore the captain has permutated his resources, in order to find a ball winning boiler-house. Last week it was Matt Price, previously it has been Rob McLeod, Geoff Chan, Dominic McCarthy and Craig Price who all have packed down beside himself. In the back row Matt Burton, Jim Curtis Kevin Pike and Simon Street have all been effective.
The Fourth team sits at the end of the selection ladder, as a consequence it can feel the brunt of the impact of injuries and non availability, and at times may struggle to field a full squad and still have a subs bench of replacements.
The future of Macclesfield Rugby Club is assured via the buoyancy of the minis, juniors and colts sections, under the Chairmanship of Phil Mason. 300 youngsters are regularly seen training on Sunday mornings; these lads will form the basis of future generations of players. Obviously there will be some wastage, they’re not all going to graduate up into senior rugby but the foundations are in place. At present though, to the 4th teams chagrin, it’s difficult to turn out a full compliment especially on long away trips. This is something all rugby clubs’ experience at lower levels, but one that the Club is currently trying to address.
Next Saturday sees the side travel, to play top of the league, Manchester Village Spartans. This is one they’re all eagerly looking forward to, not only because of the chaleenge, but also because of the excellent après-match repast, which is said to be the best in the North of England. Good luck boys come back with a victory.